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Digital Nomad Year in Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of 2019

December 31, 2019

Another year of full-time travel is in the books, and I’m still typing behind my keyboard in disbelief that we’ve been able to keep up this lifestyle for this long. When I wrote my first year in review in 2017, I had gone through the worst year of my life. Overcoming severe depression that almost ended my life, losing my job, dealing with my parent’s separation, and still being in over $25,000 of debt. I wrote that post just a month after buying one-way tickets out of America with the hope of a better life in the near future.

I had gotten in a car with no final destination in sight. Jumping into the abyss of uncertainty, scared to death, but knowing that the alternative… Staying home, working a job that didn’t fulfill me, and living life waiting for the weekends… was even scarier still. I may not have known where I was going, but I knew damn sure what I was driving away from. Yearning for a life where I didn’t dread my alarm clock, or fall in a pit of anxiety on Sunday evenings. Dreaming of a life where I got to live presently, work on projects I was passionate about, and only answer to myself.

Related: The Hardest Year of My Life. Here’s What I Learned

Where I Am Now

Fast forward two years later, and I’m writing to you from my comfy bed in Sri Lanka, with 41 countries under my belt, happily self-employed, and in utter disbelief at how life has unfolded. 2019 has come with its own set of joys, curveballs… moments of great celebration and success, and moments of great loss.

The Learning Moments of 2019

Whenever people come to this blog, I want them to know they are reading authenticity. Not those Instagram highlights, not the adorable “year in review” that Facebook puts out for you to share with your friends. But a real person, that encounters real struggles, great success, deep pain, and overwhelming joy. I’ll start with the learning moments.

Woman with her grandmother on her wedding day digital nomad year in review

The Loss of a Loved One

Right at the beginning of this year, I lost someone who’s death I’ve grieved for decades before it even happened. My grandma was the woman who raised me. We spent mornings sitting on the front porch of my humble home in Miami waiting for the school bus to pick me up at 6AM. Afternoons were spent watching “Caso Cerrado”, the Hispanic (and significantly more dramatic) version of “Judge Judy”. She passed away while I was in Australia, just 6 days before my flight to see her. That was the first time I had experienced the negative side of being a full-time traveler and having to be so far away from my home.

What I Learned

That experience taught me how important my family is to me. After losing my grandma and not being able to make it to her bedside, I decided I wanted to get closer to home as soon as possible. It made me realize that I want to be close enough to home in the event an emergency happens. Before traveling I was very selfish and naïve. Thinking everyone was going to live forever and that my old life was always going to be waiting for me when I got back. Although we are obviously nowhere near done traveling, we are making a plan to finish with Asia in 2020 so we can travel closer to home.

Letting go of Toxicity and my Pride

Though I can’t go into as much detail as I wish, I was terribly wronged a few years ago by individuals I never fathomed. This year, I had to choose to let go of the grudge and my pride, so that I could move on with my life. But it did teach me a few things. For one, life is not always fair and that’s something I learned a lot about back in 2017. But what I’ve also learned is that sometimes you have to choose your happiness and peace over your pride or need for justice and revenge.

The Most Rewarding Moments of 2019

Digital Nomad Annette Fortner doing motivational speeches in a high school

Motivational Speeches

In 2018, I decided I wanted to share my dream roadmap with other people. After overcoming bouts of suicidal ideation, depression, losing my job, and still making my dreams a reality, I wanted to show others anything is possible. This year I was beyond blessed with the opportunity to speak at two high schools and show them that if they chase their dreams, they can attain them too.

One of these high schools was very near and dear to my heart because it was my own Alma matter. A school that is at over 90% Hispanic majority, and located in what a lot of people would consider the ghetto. I remember growing up and people giving me “the look” when I said I went to Miami High. It was as though they believed I had to go to school with a knife in my back pocket just to protect myself. But what people don’t realize is that Miami High gave me so much practical life knowledge. The teachers there and extracurricular activities they extend their students are what taught me to be the driven, and tenacious woman I am today. Getting the chance to give back was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had all year.

Couple kissing in front of a beach

Going on a Mini Honeymoon with my Husband

I know a life of full-time travel sounds like a lot of fun, and though it is, it’s equally exhausting. For the first time in almost two years, Daniel and I took a weekend to just us, without our computers, in one of the most beautiful places on the planet! Going to Railay Beach and just focusing on my hunk was definitely one of the best parts of this year!

Being Featured by Podcasts and Blogs in My Industry that I Admire

Back on the topic of dreams coming true and being so grateful for the life that we get to live, this year I was able to talk and work with some of the people I really admire! Earlier this year I was able to write posts for Mappin’ Megan, Francis Tapon, and the World Wanderers! I was also featured by the Amateur Traveler podcast, The World Wanderer’s Podcast, and Flow State Freak! I had a goal to be featured in at least 5 publications this year, and we smashed it!

Business Successes of 2019

Chase Your Adventure Tours Melbourne
Chase Your Adventure Tours- Melbourne

The Launch of Chase Your Adventure Tours

It’s always scary launching a new business venture because you can’t anticipate how it’s going to perform. When I first launched Chase Your Adventure Tours- Melbourne, I was worried nobody was going to show up. To my pleasant surprise, 3 people trusted me enough with their vacation to travel to Melbourne with me and we had an amazing time! We visited the Great Ocean Road, fed Kangaroos and Koalas, and watched thousands of little penguins flock to their burrows after a day at sea!

Now, just a few months later, we are getting ready to go at it again but this time, in our favorite country in the world, Thailand!

Click here to join us in Thailand in March!

Our First Partnerships

After doing YouTube and Insta since April of 2018, we have grown quite an amazing online community that we are grateful for each day! In November, we were able to secure not just one, but two amazing partnerships with companies we admire and believe in! Although partnerships have never been in the plan for income streams, it’s been fun collaborating with businesses that align with our brand.

Couple posing for the camera as digital nomads

Start of Nomadic Mondays

Since the beginning of our travels, we’ve been overwhelmed with questions on how to make money while traveling! To answer these is an organized fashion, we created our Nomadic Monday series on YouTube! Those videos have been exciting to create and the feedback we’ve gotten from them makes our heart so warm! Thank you for all of those who have watched and if you were interested in learning how to make money while traveling, here are a bunch of those resources!

Girl on a beach with her laptop as a digital nomad

The Monetization of our YouTube Channel

In January, we had a super random video go viral in Malaysia! And just 6 months after starting our YouTube channel, we got the green light for monetization! This was a huge win for us that made us feel one step closer to making YouTube our primary revenue stream. Although we are nowhere near millionaire status yet, we all have to start somewhere and this year was the start of something big!

The Most Badass S*it We’ve Done in 2019

Our job takes us to some of the most amazing corners of the world. This year we’ve been able to do even more things we would’ve never imagine doing just a couple of years ago! Here are some of the biggest highlights of 2019!

Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Trek

Lived in Australia and Vietnam

Traveled to Cuba, UK, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka

Watched Serena Williams play in the Australian Open

Climbed a Waterfall in the World’s Oldest Rainforest

Slept in a Floating Bungalow in the Middle on a lake in Thailand

Witnessed the Sunrise Over the Taj Mahal

Girl in a saree staring at the taj mahal

Got to dress like an Indian princess at a Royal Caliber Indian Wedding

Digital Nomad year in review at an indian wedding

Swam with whale sharks in the Philippines

Swiming with whale sharks in oslob as a digital nomad

Witnessed the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

girl looking at the 12 apostles on the great ocean road

Fed adorable Kangaroos in Australia

Girl feeding a kangaroo as a digital nomad

Disclaimer and Pep Talk

I know it’s easy to look at these posts and feel like we’re bragging. But we do our best to show you everything about this lifestyle in the most authentic way possible…The struggles, the joys, the setbacks, and the blessings. With that said, I want this to serve as a reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to. If you look at our goal cheat from 2017, you’ll notice that we were still trying to pay off debt when we sold all of our stuff and bought one-way tickets. But we didn’t let our circumstances serve as excuses.

We pushed through the struggles because we knew the outcome would be worth it. So what do you have on your sights for 2020? Let us know in the comments below! We are rooting for you the whole way!

 

 

 

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